Species and Plant Community
Accounts for Identified Wildlife

Table of contents

YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT (Icteria virens)

Status

The yellow-breasted chat is RED-listed due to a small population size (<50 pairs) in B.C. and its dependence on lowland riparian thickets. Loss of riparian thickets to urban and agricultural development in southern B.C. has greatly reduced available habitat for this species and is the primary threat to its long-term presence in the province. The B.C. population has been designated as THREATENED in Canada by COSEWIC.

Ecology

The yellow-breasted chat is a secretive warbler that is restricted to dense riparian thickets in dry, open habitats. Dense cover is important for foraging on insects and for nest cover. Foraging and nesting usually occur in undergrowth and in tree and shrub branches below 3 m. Nests are built in early June and eggs are laid by mid-June. Young fledge by mid-July and soon after begin migration south.

Distribution

Ecoprovinces: Ecosections

Biogeoclimatic units

Breeding and nonbreeding range

The yellow-breasted chat breeds mainly in the south Okanagan valley and along the Similkameen River. The vast majority of the breeding population occurs south of Penticton. Scattered pairs occur in upland areas above the main river valleys, north through Vernon to Alkali Lake. In recent years, a small breeding population has become established near Mission and Chilliwack, but it is not impacted by forest or range practices. The nonbreeding range is essentially the same as the breeding range; however, a few individuals may disperse to the coast and southeastern B.C.

Wintering and migration

This species is a neotropical migrant that winters in Central America. Spring migrants arrive in B.C. during May and depart shortly after breeding is complete in mid-July.

Habitat requirements

Broad ecosystem units

Structural stage

3: shrub/herb

Critical habitats and habitat features

The yellow-breasted chat breeds in low elevation thickets. It prefers dense wild rose thickets containing or near shrubs and small deciduous trees. Occupied thickets tend to be damp (not wet) and occur along hedgerows, streams, lakeshores or damp gullies. This species will avoid thickets with tall overstoreys, or thickets fragmented by cattle trails or walkways.

Selected references

Cadman, M.D. and A.M. Page. 1994. Status report on the yellow-breasted chat in
Canada. Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada, Ottawa, ON.

Cannings, R.J. 1995. Status of the yellow-breasted chat in British Columbia. B.C. Min.
Environ., Lands and Parks, Victoria, B.C. Wildl. Bull. No. B-81.

Fraser, D.F. and E. Walters. 1993 Preliminary species management plan for yellow-
breasted chat in British Columbia. B.C. Min. Environ., Lands and Parks, Wildl.Br., Victoria, B.C. Draft rep.

Gibbard and Gibbard Environmental Consultants. 1992. Yellow-breasted chat survey.
B.C. Min. Environ., Lands and Parks, Penticton, B.C. Unpubl. rep.


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